For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 38: July 08, 2013

I sent them a story with a bunch of graphic sex, and it was nowhere near as good, and of course they bought that one.

Ken Baumann (right), founder of Sator Press and author of Solip, guest-interviews Nick Antosca (left), author of upcoming story collection, The Girlfriend Game.

Dorothy Allison interviewed at AWP:

If you just go get one of these little fine arts degrees or writing program degrees, it never forces you to confront your responsibility as narrator, whereas any of the social sciences make you at look the interaction between the storyteller and story. Hurston understood that. But then she and I write out of despised cultures that on some level we feel we're defending. 

Our recommendations this week

The Ghosts Who Vanished by Degrees

December the twenty-eighth, as some of you may know, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, traditionally the day on which King Herod slaughtered the children of Bethlehem. In the Italian shops in this city you can buy very pretty little babies, made of sugar, and eat them, in grisly commemoration of Herod’s whimsical act.

I was sitting in my study at about eleven o’clock that night, reflectively nibbling at the head of a sugarbaby and thinking about money, when I noticed that the lights were on in the Round Room. It troubles me to see electric current wasted, so I set out for the Round Room in a bad humor. As I walked across the quad, it seemed that the glow from the skylight in the Round Room was more blue and cold than it should be, and seemed to waver. I thought it must be a trick of the snow, which was falling softly, and the moonlight which played so prettily upon it.

I unlocked the doors, walked into the Round Room, and there he was, standing under the middle of the skylight.

He bowed courteously. “So you have come at last,” said he.

“I have come to turn out the lights,” said I, and realized at once that the lights were not on. The room glowed with a fitful bluish light, not disagreeable but inexpressibly sad. And the stranger spoke in a voice which was sad, yet beautiful.

We read it in High Spirits.

A Conversation with My Father

"I would like you to write a simple story just once more," he says, "the kind Maupassant wrote, or Chekhov, the kind you used to write. Just recognizable people and then write down what happened to them next."

I say, "Yes, why not? That's possible." I want to please him, though I don't remember writing that way. I would like to try to tell such a story, if he means the kind that begins: "There was a woman..." followed by plot, the absolute line between two points which I've always despised. Not for literary reasons, but because it takes all hope away. Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.